As I look through the photos of my home birth I am reminded of what a life-changing day that really was. Birth is truly an incredible, empowering thing for women and I feel like I was REALLY able to experience physically the process of labor and birth with Jack. When i found out I was pregnant, I knew right away that I wanted to have an un-medicated birth. I wasnt able to experience that with the twins and although I cherish their birthday with my whole heart, I knew I wanted to experience the entire process of what my body was made to do with this labor and delivery. (for those of you reading, I apologize, this is a LENGTHY one! I didnt want to forget anything, so I basically wrote a novel). :)
LEADING UP TO LABOR: As the weeks went by I felt more and more prepared for birth. I had questions answered, I prayed and worked through fears I had, I read birth story after birth story of strong, courageous women that gave birth without medication and I envisioned as many scenarios as I could think of to mentally prepare myself for the big day. Craig and I met with our midwife and midwife assistant (two people I care deeply for and have known almost my entire life, my childhood best friend, Christine and her amazing mama Cathy) and felt so taken care of and built so much trust in the fact that we were doing the right thing for us. I also had a blessing-way the month before my birth and it was so powerful having my “tribe” of strong women show me their love and support and give me the extra strength I would need to draw from the day of.
The end of my pregnancy drew near and Jack decided he was really cozy in my tummy. My due date came and went, and so did 41 weeks…I started to wonder if maybe he really was a figment of my imagination after all and worried I might need to be induced once again like I had to be with the twins. I spoke with my midwives of my concerns and anxiety and they told me not to worry, that he would come when he was ready and it would be okay. I think I was gifted those extra days to really get mentally prepared for what was to come. With each additional day I had to wait, I grew stronger and more at peace trusting my body and the process God designed for me.
THE BIG DAY: Finally, 10 days past my due date, I woke up at 3am with a strong contraction. I had had them randomly at night for about three weeks now and so I assumed it was probably nothing and decided to go back to sleep. Later I awoke again to what felt like another strong contraction and got excited and checked my phone to see what time it was. It was 4:15am, (about an hour after the first) so not wanting to get my hopes up too much I decided to get a drink of water, hit the bathroom and see how things felt. A few minutes later I felt more strong pressure in my lower abdomen and wondered if that could be another contraction too? I sat there thinking there was no way it could be as everyone always says contractions begin about 30 minutes apart, then go to 20, then 15, then 5 etc. I didnt think they STARTED at 3-5 minutes apart, but just a few minutes after that I felt another and decided maybe I should see what my midwife assistant thought.
I sent Christine a text to let her know and she told me she would come over right away if I wanted her to. I decided I wanted to wait another twenty minutes just to be sure my contractions kept coming since it was 4 in the morning and I didnt want to be the false alarm girl! :) BUT, about 10 more minutes passed and I felt 3 more contractions and decided that we probably didn’t need to wait another 10 and she could come as soon as possible. So she was on her way and I woke Craig up to help me through my next contractions (which mostly came in the form of him cracking jokes and making me laugh which did NOT help the pain, haha but definitely distracted me from it). Christine arrived soon after (about 5:30am) and her and Craig got the birthing pool set up in our bedroom, she lit candles, and started my birth playlist for me as well as pushed on my hips through each contraction and showed Craig how to do the same.
I was feeling okay as long as I could focus and close my eyes during contractions and someone was putting pressure on my hips, so I sat on the medicine ball with a heating pack on my belly and Craig or Christine would push my hips together during a contraction and I would rest and talk to them between each one.
By about 6am, my contractions were getting much stronger. I decided to get in the birthing pool and was SO glad that I did. I felt so much relief, was able to relax better between contractions and the warm water felt so comforting through the strong, deep pains of labor. Christine or Craig ran the palm of their hand down my spine during contractions while I was in the birthing pool and Craig held my hand between each one. Christine offered words of comfort when I needed them as I began to really feel labor take its grasp on me. I was now completely focused and trying to engage my entire mind, body and spirit through the pain so I could work with my body and Jack to make the needed progress. There was one moment where I was on the verge of tears wondering if I could actually do it and Christine said, “Just remember, on the other side of all of this you will get to meet your baby”. It was JUST what I needed to hear and all of the sudden I felt so much stronger, excited and in touch with what I was doing. I cried, but not tears of fear, tears that I couldn’t believe I was really finally doing this, I was about to meet my baby and it was going to be soon. My midwife Cathy arrived about 7am and her and Christine finished setting up everything for the delivery. Just after that, my mom and dad also showed up about this time and my mom came up to join us. I cried when I saw my mama, and she came to stroke my hair through the rest of my labor, I felt comfort being able to have her there to draw strength from as well.
Cathy did my cervical check and told me to really try to relax through each contraction and let my body push the baby down and not fight things, and she had Craig get me an electrolyte to drink so I would stay hydrated. I could tell from the look in her eyes that I had a lot of progress to make still. I tried not to get discouraged but at this point I could feel each contraction take up my entire body and I didnt know if I could possibly last hours and hours longer if my body wasnt making progress. She never said numbers, which I am so glad in retrospect because I think that REALLY would have disappointed me and made me doubt myself and the process. Instead she encouraged me through each of the following contractions and gently coached me to feel empowered, strong and at peace.
The next thirty minutes seemed to pass quickly as I felt my body naturally wanting to push with each contraction. I asked Cathy if it was okay if I felt like I needed to push and she smiled and said, “you have been pushing”, like it was okay to do whatever my body told me to, and I said “okay, so thats okay then?” and she said yes, so I just continued to trust my body and do what felt right. She decided to check me again (about 8am) and after doing so, told me I did such a good job and that all she could feel was the sac at this point and that she felt breaking my water would help Jack progress much faster.
So at the beginning of my contraction she broke my water and I could instantly feel Jack push down into my hips. I don’t know if I can even come close to describing what it felt like when I was REALLY pushing Jack out, but as I could feel his head pass between my hips it literally felt like they were breaking in half. It was SO much pain, and at the same time, so much relief to really FEEL the progress I was making. Cathy told me to make quick, short breaths any time I felt stinging and that slowed things down just enough that I didn’t tear. It seemed like I was pushing forever and then before I knew it, I could feel his head crown and knew that I was close.
I was full of excitement and at this point, knowing that I was moment from meeting my son. I pushed a few more times and a felt a huge relief as his head came out. Cathy checked to make sure there was no cord in the way and I rested for a few moments between contractions and then pushed again as she and Christine guided his shoulder out and told me to hurry and be ready as he was almost here. I looked down as I pushed the rest of his body out and am STILL in awe of the absolute miracle of being able to see my baby be born and pull him up to my chest immediately. I caught him as he came out with his little eyes closed and his body wiggling in the water and hugged him close as he coughed gently and uttered a few beautiful cries.
He was born at 8:51am just four and a half hours after my actual labor began. It was the most peaceful, incredible, triumphant moment of my life and I felt nothing but pure joy. Craig and I admired him while we waited for his umbilical cord to stop pulsating and it was such a spiritual experience. His cord was cut and he was given to Craig to hold while I delivered the placenta and the midwives helped me into the shower. I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt so shortly after birth, and that all of the pain I was feeling moments before was completely gone. I remember thinking, “I could go hike up the mountain right now I feel so good!” (obviously the adrenalin hadn’t worn off QUITE yet…haha)
I got dressed in comfortable clothes, climbed into bed and was able to relax and nurse Jack while Craig and my parents got the twins out of bed (Who woke up at 9am, almost two hours past their normal wake-up time!). They ran into our bedroom to see the baby they had heard and were able to meet their little brother right away. It was so special and fun to see their faces and watch them look at their brother for the first time.
Soon after Cathy and Christine did Jacks newborn exam and Craig held him to be weighed and we learned that he was 8lbs 5 ounces and 21.5 inches long. (And the cutest little thing EVER). It was a day we will never forget and every part of it felt so right. I know God played a huge role in every single moment of my pregnancy being healthy and safe without knowing I was carrying a child, and labor and delivery being so smooth and beautiful. I will forever be grateful to him and know how blessed we are to have such an incredible baby.
*To Jack, for when you read this someday: We are SO happy to have you as part of the family Jack and even though we didnt know you were coming until a little later than most people do, you were the best surprise ever! You are the sweetest, most adorable baby and we couldnt be more proud of you. We are so excited to see what life brings you and will be there to support and love you every step of the way! Love, Mom and Dad